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Radiology: Boom time for qualified radiologists

Indian radiologists are increasingly receiving work from the US, Europe, and elsewhere abroad, therefore contemporary radiologists need to be computer literate in this technology intensive specialisation.

Radiology has become an attractive career choice of young people. As the first point in the line of a medical investigation, it plays a very critical role in medicine. Technology developments in this field are fast and furious, which is why today its the first specialisation choice for MBBS graduates,” says Dr. Dhaval Modi, head of the department of radiodiagnosis, neuro-radiology and interventional radiology at the highly reputed Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre (estb. 1952), since 1994.

Also known as radioscopy, radiology involves the use of radiation for different types of ‘imaging, including x-rays, radiant dye, ultrasound, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), PET scan, gamma ray, interventional radiology, mammography, and molecular imaging. It all started with the simple x-ray, but today there are infinite possibilities and speciality areas within a radiologists ambit. The bottom line is no physician or specialist can make a reliable diagnosis without the help of a radiologist who studies images of tissues, bones, and organs for further diagnosis and therapy. Radiology also helps detect and prevent osteoporosis in women by using a safe advanced technology termed DXA. A major breakthrough in this field — teleradiology i.e. electronic transmission of radiological images such as x-rays, CTs, and MRIs from one location to another for interpretation and consultation has spurred the demand for qualified radiologists. Consequently, people across the world including the remotest parts of India can get the expert opinion of best radiologists.

TECHNOLOGY INTENSIVE. Since India boasts a large pool of well-trained doctors and is simultaneously experiencing an information communication technology (ICT) revolution, it is gradually emerging as a teleradiology hub. Indian radiologists are increasingly receiving work outsourced to them from the US, Europe, Singapore, and the Middle East. Therefore one of the important attributes of a contemporary radiologist is computer literacy, as this specialisation has become technology intensive.

An MBBS degree is the prerequisite qualification for a Masters in radiology or radiodiagnosis. Apart from several universities which offer a limited number of seats for MD qualification, a three-and-a-half-year radiology programme is offered by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

Unsurprisingly, theres no dearth of demand for qualified radiologists. Freshers starting as resident doctors in radiology in hospitals can take home Rs.15,000–20,000 per month which could rise to a whopping Rs.3 lakh in six years. Radiologists are also required in diagnostic imaging centres and diagnostic laboratories, where pay packages are equally good. And for those with capital to start their own clinics, the sky is the limit.

An alumnus of Mumbais well-known Grant Medical College, which awarded him his MBBS degree in 1986, Modi signed up with Bombay Hospital as a resident doctor in radiology and simultaneously read for his MD in radiology at Mumbai University. After duly qualifying in 1988, he was promoted to the position of clinical assistant, interventional neuroradiology and assistant radiologist. Subsequently, fellowships came his way and he took a sabbatical from Bombay Hospital to work in interventional radiology and digital subtraction angiography at the Ulleval University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. In 1990, Modi underwent training in MRI and interventional neuroradiology in Britain, Italy, and France.

Super specialised, in 2003, Modi promoted Indias first endovascular neurosurgery clinic. A national expert in this field, he has presented papers on interventional neuroradiology at international congresses and has published several books on the subject.

Currently theres a 20 percent shortage of radiologists in the US, increased workload, and not enough professionals for night duties. Thats why teleradiology, which can transfer images through computerised radiology, digital radiography, and picture archiving communicating systems (PACS) works out perfectly for Indian radiologists. We read images in the morning while the US sleeps and can deliver our diagnoses to reach them first thing in the morning,” says Modi.

The system works well in practice, both sides of the Atlantic.

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